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Treatment of Hydroponics Wastewater Using Constructed Wetlands in Winter Conditions

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Hydroponics culture generates large amounts of wastewater that are highly concentrated in nitrate and phosphorus but contains almost no organic carbon. Constructed wetlands (CWs) have been proposed to treat this type of effluent, but little is known about the performance of these systems in treating hydroponic wastewater. In addition, obtaining satisfactory winter performances from CWs operated in cold climates remains a challenge, as biological pathways are often slowed down or inhibited. The main objective of this study was to assess the effect of plant species (Typha sp., Phragmites australis, and Phalaris arundinacea) and the addition of organic carbon on nutrient removal in winter. The experimental setup consisted of 16 subsurface flow CW mesocosms (1 m2, HRT of 3 days) fed with 30 L d1 of synthetic hydroponics wastewater, with half of the mesocosms fed with an additional source of organic carbon (sucrose). Carbon addition had a significant impact on nitrate and phosphate removal, with removal means of 4.9 g m-2 d-1 of NO3-N and 0.5 g m-2 d-1 of PO4-P. Planted mesocosms were generally more efficient than unplanted controls. Furthermore, we found significant differences among plant treatments for NO3-N (highest removal with P. arundinacea) and COD (highest removal with P. australis/Typha sp.). Overall, planted wetlands with added organic carbon represent the best combination to treat hydroponics wastewater during the winter.

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We thank Audrey Forthomme and Marina Duarte for their technical assistance in greenhouse and laboratory work. This project was funded by “Les Amis du Jardin botanique de Montréal”.

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Correspondence to Jacques Brisson.

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Gagnon, V., Maltais-Landry, G., Puigagut, J. et al. Treatment of Hydroponics Wastewater Using Constructed Wetlands in Winter Conditions. Water Air Soil Pollut 212, 483–490 (2010).

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  • Constructed wetlands
  • Hydroponics wastewater
  • Macrophyte species
  • Nitrate removal
  • Organic carbon addition